Pokemon on the DS is nothing new -- we've already received Pokemon Dash, Pokemon Trozei, and Pokemon Ranger in the system's two years of life. But it's the RPG design the public's clamoring for, not the spin-offs -- those games were just biding the time while Game Freaks cranked out the enormous, ambitious, real deal Pokemon project. It doesn't matter what's going to be said in the next thousand or so words: Pokemon Diamond and Pokemon Pearl will, without a doubt, be the top-selling game released to date on the Nintendo DS. There's absolutely no debate here. Millions of gamers are going to buy this game no matter what the critical word will be, but that won't stop us from calling it like it is: Pokemon Diamond and Pokemon Pearl are still the "gotta have" portable games, but don't expect to be overwhelmed with a fresh take on the series. The team stuck to its guns and kept the DS game in line with the Game Boy Advance designs, which were, honestly, a modest upgrade to the Game Boy Color game, which, in turn, wasn't a huge step over the game that started it all in black-and-white a decade ago.
For a game that's literally sold countless millions of copies over the past ten years, it's pretty amazing to discover gamers who have yet to experience what Pokemon is all about. Under its kid-friendly, thick sugary coating lies a deceptively deep and addictive design that encourages players to create collections of highly marketable creatures of various species. The core mechanic is an adventure with role-playing game battle mechanics -- these creatures will fight for their owner using their abilities in a turn-based interface, where players choose the best mode of attack or defense that'll get them through the brawl. Winning battles will earn these creatures experience which will, in turn, advance their levels and increase their capabilities...as well as earn their owners some coin for purchases at the shops.